by Dr. Foster H. Shannon
“And all things, whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive. Matthew” 21:22
Prayer is exemplary in the Bible. We find it everywhere. There are many teachings on prayer; many commendations of prayer. Jesus is an example to us in his recourse to prayer—and the Bible is abundant in teaching and inviting us to pray. Jesus gave us instructions regarding prayer:
1) Don’t pray like the Pharisees who love to be heard in public for the impression that they can make. (Matthew 6:5)
2) Pray in private; “Go into your own room and close the door and pray there.” (Matthew 6:6)
3) “Watch and pray that you do not enter into temptation.” (Luke 22:46)
4) “bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:28)
5) Jesus gave us a pattern of prayer in the Lord’s Prayer: “Hallowed be thy
name—Thy kingdom come—Thy will be done…Give us this day our daily bread…Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”
Prayer presumes a personal relationship with the living God. There are prerequisites to prayer: We must pray in faith, believing that God will hear and answer our prayers. We must pray according to the will of God;
“Hitherto have you asked nothing in my name; ask and you will receive that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24)
If we affirm that God answers our prayers, we mean all of the following: That he will give us, sooner or later, what we have asked of him. That he will tell us to be patient and wait; the answer will come. That the answer will come because we have asked for something that is good for us or for others. That we are to be in harmony with God in our prayers.
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.” (John 15:7)
Jesus told the parable of the widow and the judge (John 18:1-8), who ignored her and refused to decide her case, because it was a small matter that was beneath him. However, she persisted, and continued to come back to court. He finally said, to get her off his back, “I will decide her case”.
“And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily.” (John 18:7)
Prayer does not mean that we put God under our control. We are to be submissive to God, who is amazingly great. He is not to be submissive to us. Prayer is not like Aladdin’s Lamp (just rub it and your wish will be fulfilled). Indeed, prayer is speaking with God. We should expect to listen as well as to speak. He speaks to us through the scriptures, through the Sunday sermon, through our consciences.
Many have recognized that there are five aspects to the complete prayer:
1) Adoration and praise
“Call to me and I will answer you—and will tell you great and hidden things which
you have not known.” (Jeremiah 33:3)
More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.
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